Alumni Spotlight: Helen Wu


A city girl from Hong Kong who loves nature and adventures, just do it slowly, cautiously and preferably in small group, because introvert.

Why did you choose this program?

When I was researching ideas for my career break, I only had two wishes: something to do with diving and something I can give back to the environment.

After stumbling upon Indo Ocean Project (IOP) online and read so many good reviews about them, I knew this is where I want to be. Living on an island, diving everyday, learn about the environment and meet like-minded people are more than what I wish for.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IOP have all the contacts to help you with the basics. From visa application, transportation from Bali to Nusa Penida to on site accommodation, they have it all sorted for you.

They also have Facebook group for up-coming interns and alumni, as well as WhatsApp group for stand-by interns, the answer to your concerns is just one question away!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be mentally prepared to live on an island. Put your city-life standard and western-norm expectation aside. Embrace the purity of simple living and enjoy the presence of animals and nature.

Be open-minded. The things you deemed as “challenge” would be your accomplishments when you look back to it. No dives are the same and you only train once as divemaster, so make the most of every moment with a smile.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The program is well organised with good structure. A typical day involves two dives, either from the boat or shore. Followed by afternoon activities like knowledge workshops or skill practices or independent study. Once the work is done comes the hardest part of the day that requires the most brain power - to decide what’s for dinner.

Every five to six days we get a day off, which we usually spend exploring the island, go on fun dives or get a well deserved massage.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Coming in I had plenty of concerns. Do I have the body strength to take on the intense physicality of daily diving? Am I be able to keep up in learning all the scientific knowledge and training? And my biggest concern of all - will I make friends as a mid-thirty Asian woman amongst the many young gap year-goers?

As it turns out, all of my fears and concerns are just overthinking, as IOP is an accommodating place where you can take your time and do it in your own comfortable pace.

And as cliche as it sounds, age really is just a number, be your true self and you will attract your kind of people wherever you are.